Are Propane Fire Pits Safe on Decking?

Are Propane Fire Pits Safe on Decking?

The simple answer to this question is yes, if you follow and undertake several safety precautions before, during, and after you have used your gas fire pit. None of these precautions is complicated or difficult to implement, however, the consequences of not following them can range from damaging your decking, to causing a fire and all the possible ramifications of that happening.

The first question you need to ask yourself is whether your decking is suitable for any gas pit you might wish to buy. One of the first considerations will be whether your deck is big enough for the size or model of outdoor fire pit you are considering. 

There needs to be adequate space so that when the fire pit is lit, people can get past it with having to go too close to the flames. The dangers not only include them getting burnt, but the very serious danger of the fire pit being knocked over as someone squeezes past.

using a gas fire pit

Before using a gas fire pit on your deck, you must consider where you are going to place it. Ideally, it should be placed close to the center of the deck as possible, so there is plenty of space on all sides of it. There is a caveat to this point, and this is in relation as to how far from the wall of your house the fire pit is, if you place it centrally on your decking.

State Regulations

There are some towns and cities where regulations state that a fire pit should be located at least 20 feet from the nearest wall of the house. If this applies in your town, then you should adhere to this rule and place the fire pit the required 20 feet away, even if that means moving it to one side of the deck.

Another consideration is whether your deck is strong enough to safely take the weight of your fire pit. Gas pits come in in a range of weights and if the one you are planning to use is at the upper end of the scale, you'll want to know that the deck can withstand it, especially if the decking is old, or is showing any signs of deterioration.

Next consider whether your decking has a roof, canopy or other covering above it. If it does, then it is not suitable for a fire pit. Although there are unlikely to be sparks and embers that a wood-fueled firepit might produce, the heat produced from a gas fire pit can reach extreme levels. This heat rising could be sufficient to cause materials above to melt or even catch fire, so this risk needs to be eliminated.

 owned a gas fire pit

Fire Pit Fuels

Most gas fire pits are fueled by propane gas which is normally purchased in tanks. Any decent fire pit unit will have a space inside where the gas tank can be placed safely, and out of sight. You must follow all the safety precautions and instructions relating to the use of propane gas, whether it is being used in conjunction with a fire pit, or any other product.

Beyond the use of propane gas itself, you should also make yourself fully aware of all the operating instructions that come with your fire pit. Any reputable manufacturer will have sent these with the product.

Even if you have owned a gas fire pit before there could be differences in how your current one is ignited or the way in which the flame is controlled. More importantly, you should be aware of how the gas tank is connected correctly.

Assuming you have read all the instructions, your decking is strong enough, and you know on what spot you are going to place your fire pit, the last thing you need is something to sit the fire pit on, so that it is not in direct contact with your decking. There are a couple of solutions, you can consider for this purpose.

The first is patio slabs, which provide a flat and stable platform for the firepit to stand on. You simply place one slab under each leg of the fire pit, and this will ensure that the base of the fire pit does not make any marks on your decking, plus they will absorb any heat that the fire pit is generating.

Campfire Defender Protect Preserve Ember Mat

One such product is this ember mat from Campfire Defender Protect Preserve.

It only comes in one size, unfortunately, but at 72 inches x 60 inches, it’s large enough for most small to medium, low-impact fire pits.

The Campfire Defender Protect Preserve Ember Mat is made from a fire-resistant material, which makes this ember mat a fantastic investment to help protect your decking or lawn from hot embers.

It’s not fire-proof, though, so obviously you shouldn’t build a fire straight on to the mat itself!

It will also help to protect concrete or paved paths or driveways from dripping grease, should you be cooking over your fire pit.

The Campfire Defender Protect Preserve Ember Mat is coated with food-grade silicone, which means it’s more durable and super easy to clean up if you do have spills.

You can tell that the company has put a lot of thought into the design as it comes with eight grommets to fix it down to the ground.

Otherwise, a large, heavy mat such as this could potentially endanger the integrity of the fire pit, if you were to experience strong winds.

The company has also made the edges of the mat reflective, so you don’t accidentally trip over it or the fire pit at night.

Pros:

  • Durable quality

  • Suitable for most small to medium-sized fire pits

  • Secures to your decking

  • Easy to clean

  • Easy to see in the dark

  • Will blend well in the garden

Cons:

  • Only available in one size and one design

  • For smaller, low-impact fire pits only

FINAL VERDICT

An alternative is a material which is specifically produced for protecting decking when fire pits are being used. These products provide a thermal barrier which prevents heat damage to decking and can be supplied in custom sizes which match the dimensions required for your decking.

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